21 April 2010

April Poem A Day Challenge Day 21

Yikes! Another fill in the blank prompt.

Poetic Asides: For today's prompt, take the phrase "According to (blank)," replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write the poem. Example titles might be: "According to Bob," "According to these instructions," "According to the government," "According to the sun," etc.

Didn't get a whole lot of inspiration from this one. The Muse rolled his eyes and vanished in a puff of chocolate-scented powder. So, lacking other ideas, I wrote, "According To Me", which seemed very appropriate, including the line - I'm not everything I'm cracked up to be – which I think was Muse inspired, because doG forbid I get the least bit cocky, or the Muse will put me in my place.

So the poem became a cynical rant about how the part of me that has a mighty high opinion of itself is constantly being sniped at by the part of me that loathes and despises such arrogance. Nothing like some good old internal conflict to keep the blood... er, poetic juices flowing.

Here are three poems that fall into my "According To Me" file. Marge Piercy, who is an old favorite of mine, and Young Smith, a recent discovery. Smith only appears to have one poetry book out, but from what I've read of his work in poetry reviews, it's enough to make me want to go forth and buy his book, something that doesn't happen too often.

by Marge Piercy

It happens in an instant.
My grandma used to say
someone is walking on your grave.

It's that moment when your life
is suddenly strange to you
as someone else's coat

you have slipped on at a party
by accident, and it is far
too big or too tight for you.

Your life feels awkward, ill
fitting. You remember why you
came into this kitchen, but you

feel you don't belong here.
It scares you in a remote
numb way. You fear that you—

whatever you means, this mind,
this entity stuck into a name
like mercury dropped into water—

have lost the ability to enter your
self, a key that no longer works.
Perhaps you will be locked

out here forever peering in
at your body, if that self is really
what you are. If you are at all.

"Dislocation" by Marge Piercy from The Crooked Inheritance. © Alfred A. Knopf, 2006.

She Considers the Dimensions of Her Soul
by Young Smith

The shape of her soul is a square.
She knows this to be the case
because she often feels its corners
pressing sharp against the bone
just under her shoulder blades
and across the wings of her hips.
At one time, when she was younger,
she had hoped that it might be a cube,
but the years have worked to dispel
this illusion of space, so that now
she understands: it is a simple plane,
a shape with surface, but no volume—
a window without a building, an eye
without a mind.
---------------Of course, this square
does not appear on x-rays, and often,
weeks may pass when she forgets
that it exists. When she does think
to consider its purpose in her life,
she can say only that it aches with
a single mystery, for whose answer
she has long ago given up the search—
since its question is a word whose name
can never quite be asked. This yearning,
she has concluded, is the only function
of the square, repeated again and again
in each of its four matching angles,
until, with time, she is persuaded
anew that what it frames has no
interest in ever making her happy.

Beneath the Waves
by Young Smith

On the streetcar one evening, I met a fat little man
with a face full of warts where his beard should have been.
He was interested in the mysteries of deep ocean vents,

where, he said, there are life forms found nowhere else
on the planet. Great clusters of tube worms, for example,
waving in the dark, many of them over six feet in length!

You could find pale spider crabs there and giant white clams,
carpets of starfish, clouds of blind shrimp. Until recently,
he said, before the lamps of the submarines found their way

at last to those fields of chimneys, not a single photon of light
had ever brushed the black trenches where they lay.
The little man showed me photographs in a large book

on the subject, and as I studied his pictures, I came to see how,
as he put it, alone in bed late at night, one might find a peculiar
comfort in this landscape with no use for eyes.



Kathleen Cassen Mickelson said...

Hi Constance - Thanks for sharing Young Smith's work on your blog. Nice find! And Marge Piercy - I love "Dislocation". Running with the idea of "According to Me" was just exactly right. Blogging daily about where the Poetic Asides prompts take you has put the whole challenge on an entirely different level than most participants land on. I hope Robert is reading your posts!

Constance Brewer said...

Kathleen - thanks/ I love finding new poets that resonate with me. :)
This is my not so mental journal of my poetry process for the month. I like reading how others figure out their process, so I decided maybe a few people would like to peek in on mine.